Beginning of an Era (6'x3'x2' 300g)
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:02 AM   #1
Phil Edwards
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Beginning of an Era (6'x3'x2' 300g)

Hello folks, long time no see! After 16 months in Japan and a month in transition between my old job and new I am finally in my new place and am as excited as ever to be keeping tanks again! The old setup may have been a journey out of my dreams, but this new life-stage truly is the beginning of an era for me. I've finally found an awesome job with a company who plans on keeping me around for a while. No more consulting or funding-reliant research gigs for me! Stability is the name of the game now.

My new place has an unfinished basement and two massive former reef tanks ready to be cleaned and set up anew. Each is 6' long x 3' wide x 2' high (that's 18 square feet of plants!); 6 inches wider than my old 225. Thank God I'll have access from the rear or planting and trimming would be a wet experience. Both tanks are drilled with 2" holes in the rear panel so I'll be getting some nice overflows made for them. One is going to be a full out as high tech as I can make it planted and the other's going to be a reef of some sort.

The current install plan is to use T5 lighting, filter with a sump (hopefully a nice custom one), run a dedicated needle wheel/mesh modded pump for CO2, and all that jazz. Substrate will be Brightwell Aquatics' plant substrate and their whole line of planted supplements. Since they're all liquid I hope to be able to get a set of peristaltic pumps for auto dosing.

Aquascaping will eventually be Dutch style. Fish? I have no idea yet.

Enough chatter, here're the pics.

Oh, FYI. Progress may be slow at first. There are a lot of things I need to get taken care of before I can put water in there.

Both tanks:

Front view:

Plumbing holes:

Yup, that's 36 INCHES!

Updates will be a lot more frequent than with my last build. Unlike last time I now have a camera to take regular pictures with...and I live by myself now. What money the student loan folks, bank, and gov't leave me is all mine to do with as I please. FREEDOM!!!
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:17 AM   #2
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Your tank: front to back - 36"
My largest tank: side to side - 36"

That's just not fair! haha
Congrats man! I'll be following this one
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:25 AM   #3
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Damn, can't wait to see this!
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:27 AM   #4
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Looks like a great opportunity ahead. I would mention though that you will save so much money if you just buy dry ferts and make your own solution.
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Old 07-25-2013, 02:46 AM   #5
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Very nice! It's going to take you a whole day to clean those tanks if they were used for reefing. :-)
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:03 AM   #6
Phil Edwards
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You're not too terribly far from me. You'll have to come visit them in person someday.


I think it might take more than a day. There's a lot of cleaning and scraping to do. Not looking forward to it!


I work for Brightwell and due to the nature of my position I need to know exactly how our products perform. Therefore, I'm going to be using all supplements we make that are appropriate for this system.

I don't intend for, or want, this thread to be an ongoing discussion of what form of supplementation is better or worse. Every person has his or her own opinions on the subject and makes their own decisions based on their personal needs or desires for their system.

This thread is about my personal home hobby tank and I hope we can keep discussion of it limited to those lines.

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Old 07-25-2013, 04:10 AM   #7
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A Dutch in a tank this size will be amazing! I'm not too familiar with Brightwell products, so seeing how they work especially in a large ecosystem will be interesting.

Best of luck,
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Old 07-25-2013, 03:59 PM   #8
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Thanks RcScRs,

I'm really looking forward to it too. There are so many possibilities with a tank this large. I've never been able to grow an Aponogeton, Crinum, or Echinodorus out to full size before. That's something I'm excited about. Trimming's going to be tough, but doable. I'll keep everyone aprised of progress. I think today's going to be the day I clear out the substrate.

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Old 07-25-2013, 04:16 PM   #9
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Off to a good start!

How are you going to change the tank from salt to fresh? (aka: what/how do you clean that?)

210 Gallon ~ Clown Loaches & Various Rainbows
125 Gallon ~ Planted
20 Gallon Long ~ Planted
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:02 PM   #10
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:08 PM   #11
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Brightwell seems to have copied stuff off the others, the guy is a marine guy, not a plant guy. It'll cost you an arm and leg to run it and you'd be much better off using basic dry ferts. Unless you want to pay for water......with a tiny bit of fertilizer added to it, and more for shipping the water.

Overflow: Make this a Bean animal style over flow, do this right.

Sump: Sealed inflow, then gentle spill over to the filter socks(I'd run 4 4"-7" dia socks), maybe a 36"x 18" x 18" sized sump.

CO2, likely a Rio or similar 300-600gph feeding into a 20" tall Clear water filter reactor housing. Rio in the mid section of the sump, out flow near the return pump.

A Little Giant 4(1225 gph) ought to do the trick for the return, fairly quiet.

Sediment, your choice. I'd still get the ADA AS. Maybe UP AQUA's soil.

I'd seriously consider a Vortech MP40, maybe a MP60, you'll need the extra flow. You can get decent deals on Reef Central's used goods trading post.

T5's are good, but you'll need two fixtures, say 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 bulbs, one at each end since the tanks are 36" front to back, no single light will make that distance spread. You can DIY or buy a pre made light, I like ATI's with the dimmers.

Spend the $ here and not of ferts

Do one Dutch and then the other nature style you'll work yourself to death otherwise.

Start sourcing wood and rock now.
I sell pallets of wood to one of the vendors who happens to be in your state.
If you need sometime larger, cool, I can add to a pallet order.

Clean the tank with a razor blades and vinegar etc. Use fresh blades often to prevent scrapes. Tooth brush and bleach to get any algae or other stains off.
Open top for both tanks, you'll be in/out of them often, so have good access.

Dual stage nice CO2 regulator set up.
pH meter.
KH test kit(Hanna is a good one)
20lb tanks, I'd keep say 4-6 tanks around.
A box or two of dry ferts, DTPA Fe also.
Tom Barr
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Old 07-25-2013, 05:38 PM   #12
Phil Edwards
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Prepping this thing's going to be a long process. First I've got to get all the substrate out of there and drain the remaining water. Getting the coraline off the sides is going to mean lots of time in the tank with a couple quality scrapers. I've converted smaller former reef tanks into planted this way. Scraping is good for getting the bulk of the coralline off and CO2 enriched water will dissolve the rest in short order. The glass will be clean in no time. The real hassle is going to be getting a hundred pounds or so of wet substrate moved over to the other tank.


I work for Brightwell now so there's an experienced plant person on staff. Chris may be a marine scientist, but he has a thorough understanding of aquatic chemistry and did sound research into plants' needs when developing the Florin line. As an aquatic plant ecologist I am 100% confident in his judgement and have no reservations about using these products as opposed to dosing dry or making my own solutions. I understand your opinion on fertilization and using pre-made products, but please let's not talk about that in this thread. I'm using BA products for a number of good reasons and that's that.

Substrate's going to be BA's FlorinVolcanit Rio Cafe plant substrate. I did my MS research developing substrates for mass culture of aquatic plants and am quite happy with what I've seen about the FlorinVolcanit line.

Thanks for the hardware suggestions; I'll keep them in mind when choosing gear for the tank.

I'm only doing one of these as a planted system. The other's going to be a reef. No working myself to death...only "mostly death".

EVERYONE: Please, let's keep discussion away from how I should fertilize and what materials I "should" use. I'm no newbie to planted aquaria or aquatic plants' needs and I've got my reasons for using what I'm going to be using and won't be doing it any other way.
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Old 07-25-2013, 06:58 PM   #13
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Looking forward to this.

Even though this is the planted tank, it would still be cool to see updates on the reef too. Sort of like a side by side comparison of choices etc. Would be super neat if both tanks had the same budget and then see which one ends up where. The common "reefs are more expensive" saying along with being told of catching practices is what has kept me out of them. There have been a few large high tech builds that lead me to believe that a primo setup would work both ways with few modifications (different reactors, skimmer instead of co2 etc.) I for one would like to see where the commonalities and differences are.

The only suggestion this amateur can make is:

Put some distance between those two tanks for a nice big flatscreen. Position comfy chairs accordingly.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:03 PM   #14
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Jealous.. Enough said


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Old 07-25-2013, 07:13 PM   #15
Jack Gilvey
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